For the first time in what seems like forever, several big names in the world of fantasy football stepped up and produced monster stat lines.
The likes of Cleo Lemon, Sage Rosenfels, Kenny Watson and Rob Bironas were nowhere to be found on our list of the top 10 performances, as stars like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Joseph Addai scared the pants of the opposition on this weekend before Halloween. But in an unfortunate twist of fate, numerous players who were considered valuable draft assets failed to meet statistical expectations and left owners with little more than a stone in their Halloween baskets. So without further adieu, let's examine the tricks and treats of the weekend.
1. Tom Brady, QB, New England (41 points): This is ridiculous. Brady is the only quarterback to ever throw 30 touchdown passes after eight games, a mark he reached this week with 306 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-7 destruction of Washington. Brady also rushed for 14 yards and two touchdowns. He has now scored 32 touchdowns overall and is on pace for an incredible 64 total scores based on his current numbers. If you own Brady, chances are you're one of the dominant teams in your fantasy football league.
2. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans (37 points): Brees was the biggest bust in all of fantasy football earlier this season, but he has resurrected his value and the hopes of countless owners in recent weeks. Brees threw for 336 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-10 win over San Francisco, and he now has thrown for 801 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions in his past three starts. He has a difficult matchup in Week 9 against Jacksonville, but Brees has re-emerged as a must start in all formats.
3. Joseph Addai, RB, Indianapolis (28 points): So much for the reports that Kenton Keith would see more carries for the Colts. Addai had 23 carries, 109 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in a 31-7 win over Carolina. Addai scored on runs of 2 and 4 yards and a catch of 12 yards from Peyton Manning. One of the top running backs in the NFL, Addai is on pace for 20 total touchdowns based on his current rate of production. He should be kept active in Week 9 even against a formidable New England defense.
4. Derek Anderson, QB, Cleveland (27 points): In a week where six teams were on a bye, why was Anderson active in less than 75 percent of NFL.com leagues? One of the top point producers in fantasy football, Anderson threw for 248 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 27-20 win over St. Louis. The underrated quarterback has now scored a combined 19 touchdowns and is on pace for more than 40 total scores. He has become a must-start option in all formats, even in Week 9 against a tough Seattle defense.
5. Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans (24 points): Colston had the best fantasy start of his NFL career in Week 8, as he caught eight passes for 85 yards and scored three touchdowns in a win over San Francisco. His touchdowns came on connections of 17, 3 and 15 yards, all from Brees. Colston, who had scored twice in his first six contests of the season, is now on pace for a solid 11 touchdowns. He might not be consistent, but it will be hard not to start Colston next week at the Superdome against Jacksonville.
6. Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego (23 points): If you told me that Rivers would complete seven passes against Houston, I would have never guessed his numbers would warrant a spot on our list of the top performers. Alas, Rivers did complete seven passes, but three of them were for touchdowns in a 35-10 beat down of the Texans. His scores came on 49- and 31-yard strikes to Antonio Gates and a 14 yarder to Chris Chambers. Rivers is a solid option next week against a bad Minnesota pass defense.
7. Braylon Edwards, WR, Cleveland (23 points): Studs like Randy Moss and Chad Johnson receive all the media attention, but Edwards has developed into a top-notch fantasy wideout this season. He caught eight passes for 117 yards and scored two touchdowns in a win over St. Louis, and he's now on pace for close to 1,800 yards and an unreal 20 touchdowns. Edwards, who scored on passes of 12 and 5 yards from Anderson, should remain active next week when the Cleveland hosts the Seahawks.
8. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis (22 points): Is it me, or has the immense dominance of Brady put Manning on the fantasy backburner? Regardless, Manning threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Carolina. His scores came on a 4-yard connection to Addai and a 59-yard strike to Reggie Wayne. He is now on pace for close to 4,200 passing yards and 34 touchdowns, but those numbers pale in comparison to those of Brady and even Anderson. Manning will face Brady and the unbeatable Patriots in Week 9.
9. Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis (22 points): With Marvin Harrison sidelined due to a problematic knee, Wayne became an even greater option in the pass attack for Manning and the Colts. He took full advantage of his increased opportunities with seven catches, 168 yards and one touchdown in a win over the Panthers. Based on his current totals, Wayne is on pace to finish with career bests in receptions (100) and yards (1,527). Keep him active next week against New England in the battle of AFC titans.
10. Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego (21 points): No one would have guessed that Gates would have been so productive based on a week that saw him catch three passes, but he made those receptions count against Houston. The All-Pro tight end recorded 92 yards and scored on passes of 49 and 31 yards from Rivers. Gates is now on pace to record a career-best 105 receptions, 1,400-plus yards and 11 touchdowns. He should continue his statistical dominance next week when San Diego travels to Minnesota to face the Vikes.
1. Daunte Culpepper, QB, Oakland (minus-2 points): If I had to venture a guess, I would say that Josh McCown or even rookie JaMarcus Russell -- not Culpepper -- will start for the Raiders next week against Houston. Culpepper was dreadful in a 13-9 loss to Tennessee, as he completed a mere 15 of 32 passes for 167 yards with no touchdowns and four total turnovers. Culpepper now has more turnovers than touchdowns in his past three starts, so expect him to fall down the Oakland depth chart sooner than later.
2. LaMont Jordan, RB, Oakland (1 point): Jordan was an absolute star in his first three starts of the season, but an injured back seems to have turned his fortunes for the worst. He had 16 yards on 12 carries in a loss to Tennessee, and the versatile back didn't record even one catch. Jordan has now rushed for a combined 87 yards in his past 41 carries (2.2 YPC) and has become a serious risk for all fantasy football owners. Start him with extreme caution in Week 9 when the Raiders host Houston.
3. Steve Smith, WR, Carolina (1 point): I suggested that owners trade Smith when Jake Delhomme was injured, and this is the reason. One start removed from a solid 136-yard, two-touchdown performance against Arizona, Smith caught two passes for 18 yards in a loss to Indianapolis. With Delhomme out for the rest of the season, Smith will be inconsistent and unreliable from a statistical perspective. It's hard to reserve a player of his caliber, however, so hope for the best next week in Tennessee.
4. Plaxico Burress, WR, N.Y. Giants (1 point): Burress recorded his second porous stat line in a row, but this week's bad numbers were caused more due to the weather conditions in London. The rain was relentless at Wembley Stadium, so it's no shock that Burress caught two passes for 14 yards in a 13-10 win over Miami. The veteran wideout out of Michigan State is on a bye in Week 9, so that should allow him extra time to rest his troublesome ankle. He'll return in Week 10 to face Dallas in an NFC East tilt.
5. Vince Young, QB, Tennessee (2 points): If Young doesn't start to produce soon, it will be assumed that the Madden curse has claimed another victim. After missing his first start ever in Week 7, Young returned to record 42 passing yards and no touchdowns in a win over Oakland. He completed fewer than 50 percent of his passes in the contest and has no touchdowns and four interceptions in his past three starts. He's a risk-reward option for fantasy owners next week against the Carolina defense.
6. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco (4 points): We have all heard of the Madden curse, but what about the curse of Norv Turner? OK, I just made that up, but it does hold some water. The past three backs to lose Turner (Stephen Davis, Ricky Williams, LaMont Jordan) have all seen statistical decreases the next season, and Gore looks primed to be the fourth member of that list. He rushed for 41 yards on 12 carries in a loss to the Niners, and an injured ankle has his status for Week 9 in Atlanta in some real doubt.
7. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville (5 points): Jones-Drew appeared to have broken out of a statistical slide in recent weeks, but he felt back into it in a win over Tampa Bay. The smallish runner totaled two catches, 62 all-purpose yards and no touchdowns in the contest, and both he and veteran Fred Taylor lost some work to LaBrandon Toefield. Unless his knee is more serious than what has been reported, it will still be hard for owners to reserve MJD next week when Jacksonville heads to New Orleans.
8. Chad Johnson, WR, Cincinnati (5 points): Johnson was rated as one of the top three wide receivers in fantasy football on most preseason rank lists, but it's been his teammate, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who has been more consistent and productive. Ocho Cinco hauled in five passes for 51 yards in a 24-13 loss to Pittsburgh, and he failed to find the end zone for the fifth consecutive week. He should bounce back next week in Buffalo, however, and Johnson is too valuable to ever reserve in all formats.
9. Cedric Benson, RB, Chicago (6 points): When I watch Benson run, I think of Curtis Enis. He was a stud at the collegiate level, but he never amounted to a hill of beans in the NFL. If Benson doesn't run with more passion, he'll end up like Enis -- with a bust label affixed to his football card. Benson rushed for 50 yards and failed to score a touchdown for the fourth time in five weeks in a 16-7 loss to Detroit. Chicago has a bye next week, so maybe Benson will find his stride for Week 9 in Oakland.
10. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota (7 points): Peterson opened the weekend as the NFL's top rusher, but he failed to produce attractive numbers in a 23-16 loss to Philadelphia. The rookie started for the first time this season but rushed for a mediocre 70 yards on 20 carries. He also didn't find the end zone for the first time since late September. Despite this bump in the road, Peterson has emerged into a must-start runner in all formats. He'll face San Diego at the Metrodome in Week 9.